Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Au Sable and Northwestern Railroad

Two Au Sable and Northwestern trains pass at Russell, Michigan. The town of Russell, which was located in northwest Alcona County, was created by the narrow gauge. The A&NW was a logging road which brought timber from the woods along the Au Sable River Valley to Lake Huron and the AS&NW base location was on the Au Sable River at Potts.

From the book: American Narrow Gauge Railroad from Google Book Search

"The E.J. Potts Salt Lumber Co. formed the AS&NW Railroad for it's private carrier in 1887 for it's operations in Potts, 40 miles up the Au Sable River valley from the adjacent towns of Au Sable and Oscoda at the mouth of the river. The railroad was made a common carrier on July 15, 1889 when it opened it's main line from Potts to connection with the Detroit, Bay City & Alpena at Osocoda with lake steamers at Au Sable. Pott's sold the operation to Henry M. Loud of Au Sable who on July 15, 1891 recognized the rail line as the Au Sable & Northwestern Railroad renamed Potts "McKinley" and undertook extensive expansion of the rail mileage. Even by the standards by the lumber railroads, the fluctuation in this line's mileage reported to the ICC were remarkable. 108 miles in 1891, 74 in 1895, 108 again in 1896, 76.5 in 1898 and 56 in 1904. The railroad provided a single passenger train on the main line and on the principal branches. In 1892 it reported to the Official Guide of the Railways an intention to the main line of 31 miles to Twin Lakes, and a branch of 36 miles from Mckinley to Luzerne. The main line was extended further 3 miles to the terminus of the Michigan Central's Twin Lakes branch at Lewiston in 1894. In 1900 the Luzerne branch was dropped. In 1905 the main branch was cut to Comins, 53 miles from Au Sable, and on January 1, 1906, the railroad discontinued operations and vacated it's charter. Loud had died but his heirs formed H. M. Loud & Sons Co and on December 26, 1907 , received the railroad under a charter for the second Au Sable & Northwestern Railway. Comins replace McKinley as the seat of the lumbering operations, and the name "Hardy" was given to Crooked Lake junction at milepost 43, from which a branch was built east, eventually reaching Beevers (12 miles) in 1911. (the branch lines and mileage reported to Poor's Manuels differ from those shown in the Official Guide.)

A major fire in 1911 at Au Sable-Oscoda wiped out the Loud operation causing the management to lease the railroad to the Detroit & Mackinac effected June 1, 1912, with option to buy. The D&M exercised the option and on May 31, 1914 merged the AS&NW into itself. The D&M converted the line in May 1915. In 1917 the management abandoned the outer half of the Beevers branch beyond Curran. The remainder of the branch and the former AS&NW main line from Au Sable to Comins were abandoned in 1927."


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